DHS and the present Administration have trumpeted their policy of deporting criminal aliens as a priority. We question the legitimacy of this claim, especially in light of the events of the past few years.
First, let us look at the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) definition of a “criminal offender” as an individual convicted in the US of one or more criminal offenses, not including traffic violations. According to documents obtained by the Center for Immigration Studies, a Washington D.C. based group concerned with immigration policy, ICE agents reported encountering 193,000 “criminal aliens” in 2013. Of this number only 125,000 were “targeted” for deportation. A total of 67,879 criminal aliens were released which represents some 35% of the total. Some of these were even released before removal proceeding could be initiated. Fiscal Year (FY) 2014 did not show any improvement in the statistics. ICE documents showing the number of criminal aliens arrested for FY 2014 was 189,104. The same documents show that 30,862 criminal aliens were released from ICE custody in FY 2014.
What does this mean to the average American? News reports from around the country indicate a significant level of involvement of illegal aliens in criminal activity. These crimes range from murder to drunk driving resulting in death. Many of these aliens have records of prior crimes, including deportation and subsequent illegal re-entries. These tragedies include killings of a US Border Patrol agent who was enjoying an afternoon fishing with his family, including his children and the shooting of a store clerk in Arizona when he refused to give the individual cigarettes until he counted the pile of change the man placed on the counter as payment. In the case involving the murder of border Patrol agent Javier Vega Jr. in 2014, his killer had not only been deported numerous times before the murder, but had been involved in an attempted rape in 2007. The murderer of the store clerk had a burglary related conviction in 2012.
A July 2014, article in Suitland, Maryland reported that a 56 year old homeless man was beaten and stabbed to death near a shopping mall following an argument with a young woman. The suspects, including the young woman, were revealed by police to be members of Mara Salvatrucha or MS-13, a violent multi-national gang, as well as, illegal aliens. In yet another case, a DACA recipient was charged with a triple homicide involving a former contestant on the popular TV show, “America’s Next Top Model.” The suspect was also charged in connection with another murder in the same state. What makes this particular case more noteworthy is that Rangel-Hernandez was listed in a federal criminal database as a known gang member, yet was granted “status” under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The Director of Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS) Leon Rodriguez acknowledged to Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) that the alien should not have been granted DACA status. More news reports show that gang members and convicted criminals have been granted DACA status by CIS.
Statistics and reports by DHS show that immigration enforcement for criminal aliens is falling. Criminals have been released, in spite of the fact they meet DHS’ own definition of criminal offenders. Moreover, these released illegal aliens have gone on to commit more crimes, including rapes, assaults and even murder. Not only has this Administration failed to fulfill its claims of targeting criminal aliens as an enforcement priority, it has even granted “prosecutorial discretion” relief to known gang members who have gone on to commit serious crimes.
In many of these serious criminal offenses, the alien at the heart of the crime has been previously deported. A number of them have been convicted of illegal re-entry after deportation, a federal crime, in U.S. District Courts. The murderer of Agent Vega had at least two of these convictions. On July 9, 2007 he pled guilty to illegally entering the United States. He was fined $10 and sentenced to 30 days in jail. A few months later he was back in court charged with the same crime. This time he was charged with the same $10 fine, but he was given the stiffer sentence of 45 days in jail. Both of these cases followed his attempted rape of a US citizen woman in June 2007.
The solution is not simply to reform the immigration law. This does not address the problem. Our immigration laws provide for deportation of aliens who commit crimes in the US. The solution is to actually enforce existing laws. Release of convicted criminals must stop. Criminal offenders with final orders of removal must be removed immediately. The need is not for more laws, but effective enforcement of the law.